“Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is writing his own memoir about his life as a Viking Pirate… though he doesn’t look anything like a Viking, or a pirate. Even his dragon is tiny and toothless! Hiccup is one member of the Pirate Training Program on the Isle of Berk. He and twelve other classmates are out on the sea during a terrible storm kicked up by Thor. It was Gobber the Belch’s idea to train on the seas during a storm like this, “he is the six-and-a-half foot hairy muscle-bound lunatic , with a beard like a ferret having a fit and biceps the size of your head” teacher in charge of the Pirate Training Program. He definitely did not take it easy on the boys –he was out for blood!
In the midst of the storm, Hiccup volunteered for a swordfight against Snotlout – the biggest Viking Teenage bully you could find. Fishlegs, Hiccups best friend, and Toothless, Hiccups dragon beg Hiccup not to swordfight – they try to remind Hiccup how horrible he is at swordfighting and anything else Viking or pirate-esque. Hiccup could understand Dragonese (native tongue of the dragons), he was clever, could swim, and his father was the chief of the Hooligan Tribe –that makes Hiccup and heir… an unlikely one unless he could pass this training program! Well, in the midst of his swordfight, Thor has stirred quite a storm that actually turns over the ship and the boys all have to abandon ship. Fishlegs can’t swim, Toothless is trying to help, but Hiccup needs to get to his friend. The big box floating by helps him get to Fishlegs before he drowns, AND starts his adventure!
The box was a coffin and when all the boys made it to shore, they saw a note that read: “DO NOT OPEN THIS COFFIN. CURSED BE HE WHO DISTURBS THE REMAINS OF GRIMBARD THE GHASTLY. THE GREATEST PIRATE WHO EVER STRUCK TERROR INTO THE INNER ISLES.” Hiccup is actually Grimbeard the Ghastly’s great-great grandson! But he was all for listening to the warning… if he says not to open it –then don’t open it! Of course, no one listens to Hiccup and the coffin is opened. A corpse greets the boys along with a note about buried treasure… every pirates dream! However, only the true heir of Grimbeard the Ghastly can find the treasure…
Who is the heir? Well if you have any powers of prediction, you will know that our hero Hiccup plays a large part in this treasure hunt. From island to island, shipwreck to underwater caverns, clues and good old-fashion thinking in between more Pirate training: dragon training, frightening foreigners, advanced rudery, bashyball, weaponry, senseless violence, and basic burglary, Hiccup and his classmates are interrupted by notes on more floating boxes, the Lucky Thirteen and the unlucky storm that brought Hiccup to the bottom of the ocean and to a treasure…???
This is an excellent read for reluctant readers in middle school. Hiccups voice is funny, sweet, and very un-pirate like! The themes of friendship, knowing right from wrong, thinking before acting, are throughout this story. Students will love the illustrations, captions, and chapter titles.
I would recommend this to any reluctant reader. They could actually research some of the terms that come up in this book to add a non-fiction quality to the humorous story. They could research Vikings, their belief in Thor and other Nordic gods, also pirate legends of the time period.
This book can lend itself for students to write their own adventure stories where they can use this book as a model to determine characters, setting, problem, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. This book follows a very traditional story map that would be easy for students to identify and then mimic in their own story writing.